Real vs. Fake chords

(from http://cyndaminthia.blogspot.com/2011/04/real-vs-fake-chord-songs.html)

When I write songs, they musically fall into two vague categories. The first is heavily influenced by my affinity for country music (I know, I know, let the judging begin), and the second is my attempt to be edgier and more free form.

In the first category, I use what I call “real” chords – easily understandable chords like Gmaj, Cmaj, Emin, Dmaj, Dmin, etc. Sometimes with a 7 chord thrown in. Sometimes suspended. I’m finding these songs fall neatly into place – it’s a structure that’s easy to read, and you know when and how phrases start and end.

In the second category, I use what I call “made up chords”. Ok. These chords aren’t really made up. In music theory, there are names for them. They’re just too much trouble for me to figure out exactly what to call the chord. (did I mention that yes, I’m a classically trained musician, but when it comes to guitar, I can’t even so much as read music to translate it onto the instrument? And I can’t translate the sounds/noises I make on my guitar into musical notation. And it’s mostly because I’m lazy and don’t want to figure it out) So I call them made-up chords. They consist of a lot of suspended chords, Major7 chords, and other ones that just don’t make any sense (as for example, E fingering off the 7th fret or something)

Anyway, my point with the second category is that I never know when the song is finished. Because it’s so free form, it seems to change every time I play it. I’m actually speaking from a current frustration. I’ve been working on a song the last two days or so, and want to finish it in time for my show on the 15th. And I think it’s finished, but I’m not sure. Because it almost feels like it’s half improvised.

It’s also funny that sometimes it takes 20 minutes to write a song. Other times, it takes 20 minutes to write 2 words.

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